Released: 1999, Spikefarm Records
Editors Note. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
The late 90’s were an exciting time when creative artists from Finland brought new and innovative folk and pagan lyrics and musical influences into Metal. Although Skyclad had virtually single-handedly created the sub-genre a decade previously, four Finnish bands, Korpiklaani, Moonsorrow, Ensiferum and Finntroll (now known as the Big Four) all launched their careers. It was a close-knit scene, with three of the four bands being based in Helsinki and they switched members back and forth on occasion.
Finntroll’s debut album, MIDNATTENS WIDUNDER was an extremely fresh and pioneering sound. All of the aforementioned bands flirted with an early hybrid of Black Metal and the new Folk/pagan sounds. Finntroll was one of the most mysterious and heaviest of the four, with a semi-illegible Black Metal style logo and lyrics in Swedish (despite the fact that the band are from Finland). The cover art is creepy and dark, almost unsettling, as what is presumably a troll peers out of the darkness with his beady little eyes.
Revisiting this album, I was mildly surprised to recall at how short it is at a mere nine songs running only 30 minutes. In addition there are three bridge instrumental pieces that anchor the album at tracks one, five and nine, so in reality, there are only six songs. There is a nice booklet with helpful (sort of) translations of the songs as well. I saw ‘sort of’ because there are descriptions of each song in English but not a direct, literal translation. The lyrics tells the story of goblins and trolls fighting the Christians in ancient times.
After a brief intro instrumental the bands opens with ‘Svartberg’ (Black Mountain) and I immediately I felt this was an exciting fresh sound. It was orchestral, symphonic and dark. There were odd instruments like the lamellophone (Aka Jew’s Harp) and other sort of folk sounding acoustic instruments. The drums were bouncy and punchy, almost happy especially on cuts like, ‘Rivfader’. (The name of a troll-king) The vocals were screamed, shouted, howled, growled almost everything BUT conventional singing. The album has a variety of tones and tempos from really fast to a slow, hippy, trippy orchestral piece that finishes the album with a story of the goblins and trolls getting high on mushrooms after their victory feast celebrating the defeat of the Christians.
Of course today, Finntroll is a very different beast. Founding member Somnium wrote most of the album and after his death in 2003, the band evolved, still very good, but different. Technically, the band has no original members left and the loss of founder and main-songwriter is apparent. However, we still have this wonderful album from a visionary artist and his creation. MIDNATTENS WIDUNDER stands (or should I say lurks in the dark) as an early example of a new and exciting sound that is now a massive Metal sub-genre practiced world-wide.